For anyone starting a new extension or building project, researching what others have done in your local area is an excellent place to start.
Image above from Ahmed, architect from Hackney, London. Click here to see more and shortlist them for your home project.
Finding a neighbour’s planning application
It’s likely that other properties in your area will be of a similar typology or layout to your house, so looking around you for inspiration is a great idea. Not only that, they will provide some idea of what would be acceptable in planning terms. When your architect prepares your planning application they will probably look to local precedents for similar development, and your planning offer will also consider these precedents when determining your application.
How to find your neighbour’s plans
Your local authority will have a record of all recent planning applications. Most local authorities in the UK have an online database that is publicly available. From there you can search by address or postcode to find all planning applications.
A simple Google search for ‘your local council’ and ‘planning application search’ should get you to the right place.
Not only will the results show applications that have been approved, it will also show the applications that have been withdrawn or rejected. You can learn a lot from these and if a project is similar to yours, it’s worth reading the decision letter which should give the reasons why the application was rejected.
Can you copy someone else’s planning application?
If you share an identical floor plan to a neighbour, who has done your dream extension, it might be tempting to copy/paste their planning application. But, in short the answer is no – by directly copying a planning application you would be in breach of copyright law. Copyright protects drawings, diagrams, maps, plans and models as well as actual buildings. Copyright resides with the creator, and in this case it’s likely to be the architect or architectural designer.
However, you can certainly use other planning applications as inspiration. Critically, your design will need to show originality to avoid a copyright infringement.
Copyright issues aside, it’s a good idea to get plans drawn up that are based on your own measured survey. Although a plan may look the same, there may be critical differences in dimensions that might lead to entirely different design and layout decisions.
Get professional advice
The above is mentioned as an introductory guide only. Please always consult your authority before starting work on your project. Your architect can do this on your behalf if you wish.
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